I will say, Cisco did not play this year at Mobility Field Day 9. That may be because the marketing team hired a ringer but I’m not gonna say anything more about that. What I do know is that they brought two of my favorite TMEs, Jim Florwick and Fred Niehaus. (They’re not big twitter dudes, so don’t get your hopes up.) These gentlemen are the best example of Wi-Fi and RF being as much art as science. I kinda want to be them (or Peter Mackenzie, who’s in the video you just clicked on) when I grow up.
This time Jim talked about AI RRM, but Fred…Fred talked about a lot of things. The thing I want to talk about that HE talked about is the 9166D1. I think the idea is brilliant and will be a great resource for a lot of 6GHz networks for a while…until external antennas get sorted (if they ever do). I think it solves for a pretty common issue and I found myself wondering “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?”
I have a fair number of external antennas in my environment. For the moment I’m going to ignore the ones in the floor and talk about the “usual” type. The open-air type. In one of the buildings we have these open spaces that originally needed coverage and then needed capacity. (Once the building was being lived in some of the spaces changed their use cases. It happens.) Now we were covering this space from the edges using 60° sector antennas. And when I moved to capacity…well I think I’m one of the few customers who used the DART connector on the 3802e with a second external antenna in dual-5GHz mode. But I’m special that way. Jim even said so…but he wasn’t really happy when he said it, you know?
And that’s the most common use case I see for sector antennas in your average deployment. But let’s be real – they be ugly AF usually. (Like…Cisco, why do you put bright orange labels on the coax?) It’s a pain for the installers to hook up. If you’re not ordering the antenna directly from the AP manufacturer then you have to match up connectors, number of leads, etc. Yes, it’s part of the job but it’s not a fun part of the job.
Well, combine the inherent nastiness of that kind of install with the current prohibition on external antennas in 6GHz and you get:
Look at that. In the words of Outkast: So fresh and so clean!
Here’s all the fun bits:
That’s a flagship alright. It does all the things and throws in a directional form factor to boot. Aside from the under-floor application I mentioned earlier I could use this instead of an external antenna in almost any indoor application that *I* have. (I say almost because I also have a pair of Gilaroos which is another Fred special.)
I know that Cisco is working hard to address some of the issues in their platform but I will say this: I never took issue with their RF design skills. I mean LOOK at that antenna design:
They even address my biggest complaint about the 9120/9130 form factor:
I dunno about you, but the first time I tried to plug a Cat 6A patch cable into a 9120 or a 9130 it was…snug. It looks like that feedback was acted upon. (This may also be the case with the regular CW9166, to be fair.)
All in all this looks like a very potent weapon to have in a wireless design arsenal. I look forward to playing with one.